The Ethical Barometer

Archive for the 'Data and Studies on Ethics' Category

Lots of “Unexpected Items in Bagging Area”: How Honest Are We in the Self-Serve Checkout?

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

In a multinational study of self-serve check-outs (Britain, Belgium, Netherlands, and the United States), the conclusion is that of the 6,000,000 items checked during the researcher’s observations (that’s 1,000,000 shopping trips researched), 850,000 (about 4%) were not scanned, i.e., the shoppers did not pay for the items.  Whether the non-scans were errors or intentional is an unknown because, well, the retailers did not want researchers confronting the shoppers (and pressing charges was out of the question).

According to the National Retail Federation, retailers reported losing $44 billion in 2015 to shoplifting, employee theft, fraud, and errors.  About $17 billion of the total was due to shoplifting.  Interviews with self-serve shoppers found (more…)

45% of us lie about the amount of debt that we have

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Country Financial survey, November 18, 2015.

The Barometer only wonders, in this day and age, does that mean we are misrepresenting on the high end? Or is the low end on the debt scale still a more favorable financial position? In this post-Dodd-Frank era, one never knows.

32% of Americans have passed off a store-bought Thanksgiving dessert as homemade

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

The Barometer has news for the nearly 1/3 dessert impostors. We can tell the difference. Unless you mess up the look of the pie crust, we know which are which. The messy crusts are the ones someone made. And, it needs to be said, the messy ones taste better too. Same thing with sugar cookies. The messy ones are the homemade ones, and they taste better than the perfect store-bought ones. Happy Thanksgiving, and keep your eye on your silverware when the dessert impostors are around. Count your spoons after they leave. Even the silver-plated ones.

The Higher the Level of Education, The Greater the Puffing on Social Media

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

A Jobvite survey finds that some of those who are searching for a job admit inflating their job skills. And the higher the level of education, the more inflaters you find:

Post-graduate 20%
College degree 18%
High school or less 9%

Are we learning puffery in college? Is there less to inflate? Or is it rationalization by sophisticates?

The Paper Mate Survey on Why We Take Pens From Our Co-Workers

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

78% — it was an accident
22% I did it on purpose.

Good to know. Batten down those Bics, Mont Blancs, and gel clickers. They are on the prowl.

Playing Online While At Work

Monday, July 18th, 2011

A GSN Digital survey finds that 35% of us play games online while at work. However, 53% of those who play do so only during their lunch hours. And 47% say they play throughout the work day.
The Barometer wonders what the job demands of the 47% are that their schedules are so gaming flexible.

On Loyalty – What Price? What Benefits?

Monday, June 27th, 2011

The Barometer’s students often explain that they are not entirely forthright during their job interviews. They expect to move on withint a few years from their “starter” jobs, but, say they, “We always tell the recruiter how we plan to be a lifer.” Their theory is that they can make more money by job-hopping and taking the next better offer. Wait, just a moment. What about the ethical issues here?

Never mind the ethics – sometimes ROI (i.e., those numbers) supports the ethical choice and back up the ethical value of loyalty. The students’ theory on how to make more money may be just that – theory. New studies indicate that loyalty does have significant ROI for employees. The work of Kathryn Shaw of Stanford and her colleagues indicates that the bulk of wage growth among 50,000 software employees comes from staying with one employer, not through job-hopping. Those with single employer experience had wage growth of about 8% per year whereas the job-hoppers averaged about 5% per year. Dr. Shaw found similar results with a different level of worker (windshield installers). “Reaching for the Stars: Who pays for Talent in Innovative Industries?” (with Fredrik Andersson, Matthew Freedman, John Haltiwanger, Julia Lane), 119 Economic Journal 308-332 (2009).

Loyalty has its benefits in sports. The Miami Heat could tell a tale or two about that, with LeBron serving as narrator, but the Wall Street Journal’s football statistician has the data to show loyalty matters. While players may perform better for the first year after they hop to a different team, players who stay with a team for five years or more actually have better statistical performances. Shirley S. Wang, “A Healthy Dose of Loyalty,” Wall Street Journal, June 21, 2011, p. D1.

Other research points to benefits for companies that retain employees – creativity doesn’t come from new blood. Creativity comes from established teams whose members are comfortable enough with each other to go out on a limb with the brainstorming process. Work to retain employees. Those pay raises halt the wandering eye and tempting interviews. Raises have ROI: enhanced creativity.

The Truth About Social Networking: We Lie

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

USA Today has some interesting thoughts on our social networking, namely that we lie.  When asked how honest they were on their social networking sites, folks responded as follows:

Totally honest                                                 31%

Fib a little                                                       26%

Flat-out lie                                                      22%

Total fabrication                                             21%

The Barometer would just like to know the difference between flat-out lies and total fabrications. 

January 3, 2011, p. 1A.

What would the world look like if we had no traffic signals?

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Look here:

However, we would all have to wait our turn and be considerate of others, something the Brits seem to have within them.  Ever try to merge onto a freeway here in the U.S.?

Justice and Pilfering: Curbing Employee Theft

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

In tough economic times, employers keep a closer eye on expenses.  They watch that bottom line and they cut out office parties, employee discounts, and other perks.  In tough economic times, employees steal more from their employers.  They do so because they lost their parties, discounts, and perks.  Worse, it is the most trusted employees who bump up those travel expenses just a bit and pocket office supplies for use at home.  What does the pilferer look like?  According to a Price Waterhouse study:

Average length of employment:     7.5 years

Average age:                                           Between the ages of 31 and 40

Gender                                                       88% male

Education                                                 38% hold a college degree

                                                                      12% hold a postgraduate degree

Monitoring does not do the trick.  About 20% of companies are doing more audits of employee expenses and office supply inventory. Another 17% are adding security measures, including monitoring.  However, emphasizingthe code of conduct, integrity, and honesty do have a substantial impact.  We all need the reminders. And we seem to be deterred when we are given that nudge toward ethics.

Moral Babies

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

On May 9, 2010, Yale psychologist Dr. Paul Bloom had an intriguing article in The New York Times Magazine, “The Moral Life of Babies.”  If this brief excerpt does not pique your curiosity or restore your faith in human nature, well, you may be unmovable.

Not long ago, a team of researchers watched a 1-year-old boy take justice into his own hands. The boy had just seen a puppet show in which one puppet played with a ball while interacting with two other puppets. The center puppet would slide the ball to the puppet on the right, who would pass it back. And the center puppet (more…)

Patients Swiping from Hospitals

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

Hospital swiping: 64% of hospital patients and family members take towels, linens, and pillows from patient rooms. Now, one-third of the patients in hospitals are not paying for their stays there, so a hospital stay is actually a revenue-producing event for one-third of hospital patients in the United States. Perhaps “thou shalt not steal” applied to patients is a partial answer to the “how to pay for health care” query.

VHA Inc., survey of 100 hospital supply executives, March 2010

90% of employees believe they are amongst the top 10% of the performers in their company

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Somewhere amongst self-esteem, performance evaluations, annual reviews, and reality, a disconnect the size of the San Andreas fault has befallen working adults.  We expect this kind of response from our youth because, well, we brought them up to believe not just that they were all above average but that they were all worthy of homogenous praise for their talents and a winning season. Everyone gets a trophy at the Chuck E. Cheese sports banquets, those events at which tokens swarm the game slots like bees after Pepsi spills on a national park trash can swing lid.  Under this system, the kid who can’t land a token in a slot with direct contact has pitching talent equal to that of The Big Machine, Randy Johnson. The Barometer wonders, whatever happened to telling kids and employees the truth? (more…)

Milgram Shocks Again

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

Professor Jerry Burger of Santa Clara University has finally put the doubts to rest.  Many psychologists have maintained for 40 years that the 1963 Stanley Milgram studies could never be repeated with the same results.  Milgram was the Yale psychology professor who had confederates pose as learners who were to be given electric shocks by study participants when they gave wrong answers.  (You Ghostbusters fans have seen Bill Murray do the experiment as “poor scientist” Dr. Peter Venkman.) The confederate learners feigned pain with each shock the participants thought they were administering. The participants, who often looked around for reassurance, were told by a lab-coated supervisor to keep going. 80% of Milgram’s participants went to 150-volts of shock, despite the cries of pain.  Milgram also had 65% take the shocks up to 450 volts.  Professor Burger had 70% of his participants take the shocks up to 150 volts.  We do follow orders.  The Barometer teaches students about Milgram’s and Burger’s work because it helps them understand that, on occasion, saying “No!” to authority figures is important.  That “No” applies to orders to cook books, pay bribes, and sell air to investors, actions that can produce pain as stunning as electric shocks. 

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